Making Time for Therapy

Reader C has a great question about work/life balance — and keeping a standing therapy appointment without being perceived as lazy.  I can’t wait to hear the readers’ tips!  Here’s her question:

Hi! I’m a newer BigLaw associate. The stress of the job has caused my mental health to take a hit and so, I’ve started seeing a therapist with whom I have weekly evening (8 PM) appointments. In most other professions, asking to see a therapist “after hours” would easily be okay, but given the “constant availability” expectations of my firm, I think this may be difficult. Is there a way to firmly, but respectfully carve this hour out for myself once a week without being perceived as lazy?

Great question — I think this is a pretty common thing BigLaw associates go through, and kudos to you for taking care of your mental health. We’ve talked about taking time for frequent doctors’ appointments before, but I don’t think we’ve talked explicitly about making time for therapy and other standing appointments.  Here are some tips:

  • I really believe that most employers really do want you to have a work/life balance — but also to get stuff done. I’d be shocked if people give you too much push back on having the appointment. If and when it comes up with your supervisors, I  don’t even think you need to get into too many details here — just have an apologetic note in your voice when you say, “I have a standing appointment tonight at 8:00, but…”
  • Make yourself available after the appointment as needed, and let people know that.  “I’ll be back in the office at 9:30,” or “I’ll be back on email at 9:30.” Then, do it.  I know therapy sessions can sometimes be emotional, but whatever you say you’re going to do, make sure you do it.  (You may want to check out our discussion a few weeks ago about answering work email at home.)
  • Know your colleagues. If there’s one of your superiors who only starts work at 6PM, you may have to handle him or her in a different way, and be more direct, but also more persistent by reminding them regularly that you’ll be out of pocket, checking in with them as soon as you’re you’re out of the appointment, and possibly even setting up a backup (paralegal? secretary?) who can definitely be available for the whopping 90 minutes you need to yourself.
  • Finally, know the peculiarities of your work schedule. If your work requires you to frequently have a late-night deadline (i.e., if your company has a regular pouch going from NYC to DC on a nightly basis), or if you work with colleagues or clients in a different time zone who are still in full work mode when you’re leaving at 8 PM — then I would strongly consider shifting your therapy appointment to another time, like first thing in the morning. Another option that I know some readers have mentioned is having a therapist who they only see via Facetime/Skype/or on the phone — if you find such a therapist, he or she may offer even later/earlier appointments than 8 PM (or be in a different time zone entirely so the hours are later/earlier than a local therapist could offer.)

Ladies, for those of you who go to therapy or other standing appointments, how do you make time for the appointment and let your colleagues know? What kind of pushback have you come up against, and how have you dealt with it? 

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Crying at Work: How to Deal

How to Handle Crying at Work | CorporetteOK, ladies and gents, let’s discuss: How do you keep from crying at work, whether due to personal reasons or as a reaction to something work-related? What are your best tips to prevent it, explain it if it happens, and clean up your face once you’re done?

First, in case it needs to be said: No one’s judging anyone when you’re crying about some horrible recent news — the death of a loved one, for example. But there can be a huge sliding scale of appropriateness and acceptability at different offices, depending on your boss, your team members, and so forth.

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Tales from the Wallet: How to Make a Budget

how to make a budgetFor today’s money feature, let’s discuss living within your means — how to make a budget and stick to a budget. What does “budget” mean to you? What tips and tricks have you used to set a budget, pay down debt, save money and protect against lifestyle inflation — and what alarm bells have you used to tell you that it’s time to reassess? 

The No-Budget Budget

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think every person needs to make a budget — there were years in BigLaw where I would automatically move my second paycheck to savings/investments, living entirely off my first paycheck (and auto-contributing to my 401k). That was enough of a “budget” to me, with no further thought. I knew then and know now I was lucky in those years, and I’m still so grateful for them — that simple decision has laid a great groundwork for me and for my family.

Pictured: MICHAEL Michael Kors ‘Jet Set’ Travel Wallet, on sale for 40% off in purple; at full price in several other colors.

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Morning Routines for Successful People

morning routines for successful peopleI’ve seen a TON of posts and articles lately on morning routines for successful people. But a lot of times I come away from these articles frustrated because they set such ridiculous standards. Send 10 networking emails every morning! Read four newspapers! Get 90 minutes of exercise in! So I thought we’d discuss. I’ll admit I’m not always the greatest in the morning (this is such an understatement that my husband is dying laughing as I write this), but even I’ve found a few useful ways to hack my mornings and make them better. So let’s discuss: what do YOU do? What is your morning routine, and do you attribute it to your success at work or in life? (#Winning, right?)

A few notes from me:

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Lunch Workouts: How to Fit Them Into Your Workday

Lunch Workouts: How to Fit Them Into Your Day | CorporetteLunch workouts: are you able to fit them into your workday? What are your best tips and tricks for exercising during your lunch break? I’ve blogged before about some of the quickest workouts you can do at work, as well as some of the best workout DVDs you can even do in an office — but we haven’t talked about this in far too long, so let’s discuss.

Lift weights. Cardio is great for getting out anxiety, but strength training plays an important part in burning calories, setting your metabolism, and keeping your body and bones strong — and a plus for weights is that you don’t necessarily sweat a ton while doing them, making for an ideal midday workout. Another option if weights aren’t your thing: look for a studio class like barre, yoga (not bikram!) or Pilates.

Make it easy to freshen up. Get over the idea that you need a full shower — dry shampoo and baby wipes can go a long way after lunch workouts. Here a few things to try instead of a real shower, depending on how sweaty you get and what’s important to you to clean:

  • If you really want your body clean, but are OK with dry shampoo on your hair: wear a shower cap so your hair stays dry in the shower.
  • If you’re okay with just wiping down your body with baby wipes (or post-workout wipes like these) but want your face clean: wash your face.
  • If you have bangs (or other parts of your hair) that look horrible after the gym, consider just washing them, either in the sink or shower, and leaving the rest of your hair tucked into a shower cap.

Move your “lunch” break. When I worked in an office, I often worked until 8 PM or even 10 PM. Work permitting, I found that a great time to go to the gym was 4:00 or later. You can come back to the office just as your support staff is leaving and meetings are winding down, which means you can switch from weekday clothes to to evening/weekend workwear, i.e., comfy clothes. Know your office, but I think wet hair in a bun or clip would be more accepted at most offices after 5PM than right after lunch.

Keep it simple. If you’re trying to move more or start a fitness regimen, remember that exercising doesn’t always have to mean a SoulCycle class or CrossFit session — going for a 20-minute walk at lunch or a coffee break is a great way to get started with lunch workouts.

Ladies, how do you fit exercise into your workday? Are you a fan of workouts in the mornings, evenings, or afternoons? How do you commit to lunch workouts?

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Open Thread: Vacation Time

Vacation Time | CorporetteAs the close of 2015 is almost upon us, here’s a question: did you use your vacation time? If you did (congratulations), please regale us with stories — wheredja go, whadja do, how’d you find the time to plan/schedule it, which app/service would you recommend, etc. — but if you DIDN’T (which historically was me), why not? Did you just have too much work? Did you not feel comfortable scheduling something with your work calendar? Was it a budget/priority thing? For everyone — do you have any big plans for 2016?

For my $.02 — I almost never used all of my vacation time, and looking back it was largely because I worried it would reflect poorly on me at work. I also was worried that I would spend all this time/energy/money researching a vacation only to have it cancelled at the last minute due to work. I felt pretty comfortable in BigLaw scheduling trips to see my parents, both because we had religious reasons (Christmas, Easter) for the trips, as well as because I knew my parents had good Internet service and would understand if I had to turn it into a working vacation. And of course I would tack on a day or two here or there if I was traveling for a friend’s weekend wedding or whatnot.

But in terms of fun vacations, particularly in places without reliable Internet access? The stress usually stopped me from going. For example, my now husband took me to Paris a few months after we started dating, and I was terrified the trip would be cancelled, that there would somehow be a disaster ON the 5-day trip (I had nightmares of having to find an “Internet cafe” to work in for hours, paying in 15-minute increments with a dial-up modem). I worried that when I left I would be working without sleep to get all the work done — and I worried that when I returned there would be a mountain of work waiting for me. The trip turned out fine, of course. (Ok, I got food poisoning, which was less than awesome for a romantic vacation, and we totally failed to make it to Reims because I misunderstood the train schedule, but workwise it was fine.)

Another reason I didn’t travel much while working in BigLaw: I could never get the timing right to travel with friends, and I never dated anyone seriously enough to even ponder a vacation together (until I met my husband) — and I was hesitant to travel by myself as a single woman. In my non-profit job, I didn’t have nearly as much vacation time, I didn’t have seniority to choose when to take it, and we didn’t have the budget anyway to take vacation without some serious sacrifices. [Read more…]